Yesterday at Daytona, Porsche finally showed off the new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race car. The road-going 718 Cayman GT4 isn't here yet, but the Clubsport gives us a very good idea of what the eventual street car will look like. We also spoke to Porsche's head of GT Customer Motorsports, Matthias Scholz, to get more info.
One of the biggest surprises of the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport was that it uses the naturally aspirated 3.8-liter flat-six as the old GT4 fit with a new intake manifold to raise horsepower from 385 to 425. This engine went out of production a few years ago when the 911 Carrera S switched to a 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. It was a surprise to see it make a comeback, but as Scholz detailed, it makes sense for racing.
"A customer who knows the 981 generation [GT4 Clubsport]—everything technical about the car because they've learned it for three years now—can carry over their knowledge to the new car," Scholz said."The next thing is that we have very, very good experience with the engine from the 981. It's very robust, so why change it?"
Mercedes-AMG did something similar with its AMG GT3 race car, using the old 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 from the old SLS, rather than the 4.0-liter twin-turbo from the road car. But you're probably wondering what's going to power the 718 Cayman GT4 road car.
It won't be the 3.8-liter—Scholz told us it's only for the race car. After all, this engine hasn't been in production for a while, and it's doubtful that it meets the most recent emissions regulations. But, , Andreas Preuninger, head of GT road cars at Porsche Motorsport confirmed that Porsche has no intention to go turbo for the Cayman. That leaves one possible engine for the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport—the 4.0-liter flat-six used in the 911 GT3. It makes 500 hp in the GT3, though we have to imagine it'll make less in the GT4, just to keep the hierarchy in place.
If you watch spy videos of 718 Cayman GT4 street cars testing at the Nürburgring, based on the sound, it seems pretty clear that the car will offer a manual gearbox. As before, the race car will get a PDK gearbox, and there's good reason to believe the road car will too. Porsche offers both in the 911 GT3, and the strategy has paid off, particularly in terms of sales. Plus, he wants to continue this strategy in the future. Offering a choice of transmissions will certainly be a good way to increase 718 sales, which haven't been too hot as of late.
There's also a persistent rumor that Porsche will offer a more track-focused Cayman GT4 RS, too. This one's a little bit harder to suss out, but it'd certainly be cool to see.
As for why Porsche decided to do the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport before the road car? There are a few reasons.
First is that the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series kicks off at Daytona on January 25th. With increased competition in this series and new cars from a host of manufacturers, Porsche wanted to get the new 718 Cayman racing in 2019.
Second, Porsche's Motorsport department is quite small. Scholz told me that development of the road and Clubsport versions of the 718 Cayman GT4 is quite closely aligned, so the engineers there are stretched quite thin.
Third is that Porsche wants to get some miles in the race car while it finishes up the road car. The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport brings some big aerodynamic changes over its predecessor, and Porsche wants to test those in competition to apply their learnings to the road car.
As for when we'll see the 718 Cayman GT4 road car? Scholz just tells me it'll be sometime in 2019. Looks like we'll have to wait a little bit longer.